Understanding language development in toddlers at-risk for autism

PI: Dr Joseph McCleery (University of Birmingham)
Funding: Autistica

Difficulties and delays in language and communication abilities are core characteristics of children with autism.  Furthermore, recent research on infant siblings of children diagnosed with autism has found that delays in language development are not limited to the 8% to 15% of these infants who go on to develop autism but are also present in many of the infants who do not develop autism.  In this study, we are using behavioural and brainwave (EEG) measures in an effort to understand the causes and consequences of language-related delays and difficulties in toddlers who have an older sibling diagnosed with autism.  We are particularly interested in how these toddlers process speech and other body action sounds (e.g., hands clapping), and how this relates to their language and communication development.  We hope that this research will contribute to the development of more effective methods for the early assessment and treatment of language and communication delays for these infants and children in the future.